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3PLs in France talk declining retail volumes at TLF Union Assembly

The topic of contract logistics took centre stage at the TLF Union’s General Assembly in Paris last week, where Vincent Ricci from GXO France and Aymeric Daher from the Daher Group discussed the decline of retail volumes and the ongoing industrial supply chain tensions.

Chief among those issues was concern over falling retail volumes. French logistics providers saw a 3.6% contraction in volumes handled in 2023, and Christophe Marques, Economic and Fiscal Affairs Delegate at the TLF Union, explained that the situation has exacerbated so far this year.

“The trend is intensifying, with a 5% decline over the rolling 12 months ending Q1 2024,” said Marques.

This instability is particularly evident in retail and its supporting industries, according to Vincent Ricci, Managing Director of GXO France:

“Over the past year and a half, we have witnessed a reversal in volumes and inventories. In e-commerce, for instance, many players face an overcapacity in logistics spaces due to slower-than-expected growth,” said Ricci.

According to Ricci, in the DIY sector, volumes have dropped by up to 50% at times. He also attributed this shift to the post-COVID period marked by high inflation, which has dampened consumer spending.

Continued supply chain disruptions

However, those gathered at last week’s event heard that not all retailers are equally affected by the economic downturn, as evidenced by some discount retailers like Action.

Commenting on this observation, Aymeric Daher, Vice-President of Daher Group’s Logistics Division, said:

“In industrial logistics, particularly mechanical and aeronautical, the COVID crisis led to a 40% drop in volumes. In the current post-COVID period, order books have filled up again.”

However, he also noted that “industrial and logistical capacities are currently unable to meet this demand continuously due to ongoing supply chain disruptions.”

Attracting and retaining talent

Amid these difficulties, both Vincent Ricci and Aymeric Daher emphasised the need for flexibility and agility.

Ricci pointed out that workforce optimisations were needed, particularly when it comes to the transfer of personnel between sites.

Meanwhile, Daher stressed the importance of making logistics careers attractive to draw in and retain new talent.

“This is one of the goals of the training school established by the Daher Group, especially given the evolving need for greater mechanisation, robotisation, and digital tools,” said Daher.